When you think of NASCAR, Daytona isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. After all, it’s not the track’s fault that it’s often overshadowed by other North American sports. But according to a report from the New York Times, the legendary NASCAR track could be losing its shine, as other tracks are vying for attention.
There’s no question that Daytona is one of the premier NASCAR tracks. It has hosted some of the biggest races in the sport’s history and is home to the annual Daytona 500, the biggest NASCAR race of the year. It also features a fantastic array of restaurants, bars, and shops – all of which contribute to making it a mecca for bargain hunters and NASCAR fans alike.
But with the recent surge in popularity of other sports, could the days of the Daytona 500 being the sport’s biggest race be over?
Other Sports Takeover
While it’s still early in the 2017 season, there have already been several notable sporting events, including the Australian Open, the Kentucky Derby, and the NFL draft. And that’s not counting all of the time spent waiting for the baseball season to begin – it’s always exciting when the games start popping up on TV!
For the time being, at least, NASCAR fans can still flock to Daytona in February for the big race. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that other sports are taking over the year, and not just on TV. For instance, last year’s PGA Championship was broadcast in high definition, with all of the major sporting events gaining this popular upgrade. In the coming months, other major sporting events, such as the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, will be heading to TV providers in high definition as well.
And it’s not just the sporting events that are getting the HD treatment. Several movies and a few seasons of TV series have already been shot in high definition, including The Hunger Games, Moneyball, and The Walking Dead. More and more people are having their favorite films and shows shot in high definition, and broadcasters are responding by upgrading their content to keep up with consumer demand.
Decline In TV Ratings
If you thought that sporting events would disappear from your TV once the World Cup got underway, then you might be pleasantly surprised. Last year, the peak TV audience for the annual FIFA World Cup tournament was approximately 200 million viewers – significantly down from the previous year’s 284 million viewers. It would seem that people are prioritizing other sports over the World Cup, at least for now.
The TV ratings for the 2016 World Cup in Brazil were also disappointing, as the event received only 13.7 million viewers – compared to the peak audience of 23.7 million viewers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It’s clear that fans are seeking alternative ways to follow the games, whether that’s through online streaming or wireless devices.
The drop-off in TV audiences is also visible in the U.S., as the percentage of people who watched the 2016 Olympic Games decreased from 4% to 2.5% – from 144.98 million viewers to only 92.65 million. It seems that the more sports available, the more people will watch – with or without the Olympics.
Decline In Attendance
It’s interesting to note that even during the Olympics, the venues weren’t full. While the games were happening, there were still empty seats at many of the basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball venues. The same could be said for the NFL games as well.
This year, the Daytona 500 attracted only around 250,000 spectators – the lowest attendance since 2005, in spite of the fact that the race was one of the most exciting events of the sporting year.
Even the Masters, arguably the most prestigious golf tournament, had only around 450,000 spectators in 2016 – the least since 2006. It would appear that many people aren’t interested in watching golf any longer – or maybe they just don’t see the point during the game’s off-season.
Other Tracks Are Rising
While other sports and entertainment options are increasing in popularity, NASCAR is still the king of the hill, at least for now. But that doesn’t mean that its days as a premier sporting league are numbered. In fact, several tracks, including Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, have seen an increase in attendances and TV ratings – proving that people are still interested in NASCAR, even if they’re looking for alternatives.
Why Are People Interested In Other Sports?
There are several factors at play here. For starters, TV providers have made significant upgrades to their content, particularly in the area of HD transmission. As more people have become accustomed to high-quality television, they’ve also become more interested in watching content shot in high definition, particularly if it’s something that they can participate in, either virtually or physically.
Around 80% of people in the U.S. now play sports, compared to approximately 60% in 1975. And it’s not just a generational thing – the percentage of people who play sports has actually increased since 1975, which means that more people are participating, and more people are interested in watching sports.
Whether or not you play a sport yourself, it’s likely that you know someone who does. And you might also know someone who is passionate about a sport that you didn’t appreciate before – like baseball or American football. If you or someone you know is interested in a sport that isn’t on the radar yet, now might be a good time to give it a try. You might just find that it’s the most exciting game or sport ever!